Meena (character)

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Meena cartoon.gif
Meena cartoon official logo
Publication information
Created byUNICEF, Hanna-Barbera[1]
In-story information
Alter egoMeena
Notable aliasesMina

Meena is a fictional character who stars in the South Asian children's television show Meena.[2][3][4] The show has been broadcast in Bengali, English, Hindi, Nepali and Urdu. Meena educates the children of South Asia on issues of gender, health, and social inequality through her stories in comic books, animated films (Meena Cartoon[5]), and radio series (affiliated with the BBC). Secondary characters of her stories include her brother Raju and her pet parrot Mithu. Her adventures include attempting to get an education, having an equal share of food as Raju, and learning about the HIV, the right way to give birth to a baby, and helping people. All of her stories advocate change in social and cultural practices.

Her popularity is due to her not being closely bound to just one country or culture of South Asia, but uniting the common characteristics of them all. The character of Meena was created by famous Bangladeshi cartoonist Mustafa Monwar, and was partly due to UNICEF, an organization that supports the growing educational awareness of South Asia through Meena and her stories.


There are 33 Meena episodes.[6]

"Count Your Chickens"[edit]

Meena wishes to go to school, but her parents see no purpose to this, because she is a girl. To overcome this problem, Meena enlists the help of her parrot, Mithu, who memorises the school lesson and relays it to her after class. As a result, Meena learns how to count in twos. She counts her family's chickens and realises that one is missing. It turns out that a thief has stolen the chicken. The villagers chase the thief and are able to recover the chicken. As a result of this incident, Meena's parents realise the value of education and allow her to attend school along with her brother, Raju.[7]

"Dividing the Mango"[edit]

The episode starts with Meena's mother feeding her younger brother, Raju, a bigger portion than Meena because he is a boy. Meena believes this is unfair so she and Raju switch places for a day to see what it is like. Raju has to do all of Meena's household chores such as feeding the chickens, sweeping the floors and drawing water. Meena has to do Raju's chores; however, there is less work to do and Meena spends a lot of the day playing. Raju comes home at the end of the day and tells his parents how difficult it was to do all of Meena's chores. The episode ends with Raju and Meena receiving the same meal portions.[8]

"Will Meena Leave School?"[edit]

Meena's father is worried because the family has run out of money. Hence Meena and the father have to go to the shopkeeper to get a loan of rice. The shopkeeper tries to cheat them by increasing the amount of the debt, but Meena stops him due to her ability to read. Meanwhile, the mother is looking for ways to earn money. The school teacher visits their home and tells the mother that she can work from home. The family buys a cow, as well as a bike so the father can sell the milk in the village. The shopkeeper tells them that if the family cannot repay the debt, then he will take the cow, the calf and Mithu. The father gets a fever so he is unable to sell the milk in the village. Meena and Raju go instead, but their bike crashes, which delays their ability to repay the debt to the shopkeeper. Mithu carries the money back home instead so that the debt is repaid in time.

"Who's Afraid of the Bully?"[edit]

Meena and her friends get together to solve the problem of bullies.[9]

"Saving a Life"[edit]

Meena saves baby Rani when she has diarrhea.

"Meena's Three Wishes"[edit]

Meena dreams of a genie out of a magic lamp who grants her three wishes about hygiene and sanitstion of her village people.As she wakes up;she decides to fulfill those wishes herself, as there is no magic lamp holding a genie for real.She then tackles the issues of hygiene and sanitation with the help of Raju,Mithu and all her friends.

"Say No to Dowry"[edit]

Meena and her family question the practice of dowry.

"Too Young to Marry"[edit]

Can Meena help her cousin who is being married before the legal age?

"Take Care of Girls"[edit]

Girls and boys have an equal right to health care.

"I Love School"[edit]

A good teacher makes all the difference.

"It's Got to Be a Boy!"[edit]

Meena teaches her uncle to welcome the birth of girls and boys equally.

"Meena in the City"[edit]

Meena experiences the life of a domestic child worker.

"AIDS: A Girl's Story"[edit]

Meena helps challenge stigma and some myths about HIV/AIDS.

"Learning to Love"[edit]

Children need stimulation, care and play from an early age, and fathers' involvement in their development is important.

"Strangers in the Village"[edit]

Coping with differences and peace building in conflict situations

"Reaching Out"[edit]

Community care and support for people living with HIV and AIDS

"Meena and Her Friend"[edit]

Iodine deficiency disorders and support for children suffering from IDD

"It Could Happen to Anyone"[edit]

Keeping children safe from accidents, including road accidents among adolescents

"The Girls Came Back"[edit]

Trafficking and sexual exploitation of girls

"When Meena was Born"[edit]

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and complementary feeding along with breast milk after that

"When Meena was a Little Girl"[edit]

Low birth weight among infants and its prevention

"Seeing in the Dark"[edit]

Vitamin A deficiency and prevention

"Health in your Hands"[edit]

The importance of hand washing to be healthy

"Safe from Worms"[edit]

Worm infestation and prevention

"Fair Play for Girls"[edit]

Girls' right to play and recreation

"Baby Rani's Four Visits"[edit]

The importance of EPI (immunization)

"We Love Books"[edit]

The need for quality learning materials for education

"Learning with Meena"[edit]

The importance of educating girls

"School First, Marriage Later"[edit]

Prevention of early marriage and retention of older girls in school

"Teacher Helps to Learn"[edit]

Quality of education in classroom situations

"Let's Go to School Together"[edit]

Retention of girls in school (after primary)

"Learning Can be Fun"[edit]

Need for quality education

"Life has Changed"[edit]

Psycho social episode

"Meena in Mythes Country" (রুপকথার দেশে মীনা)[edit]

Right way to baby birth

"Angel's Story"[edit]

Helping episode

"Meena Came Back to the Village"[edit]

Stopping children's persecution

"Life Smiled Again"[edit]

The episode is based on the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. Many families from affected areas come to Meena's village for shelter and protection. Meena becomes friends with a girl named Nasreen and helps her find her family.


  1. ^ McKee, Neill (1 May 1996). "Meena and Sara: Two Characters in Search of a Brighter Future for Women". Animation World Network.
  2. ^ "Meena Communication Initiative". UNICEF. Archived from the original on 2008-02-20. Retrieved 2008-02-24.
  3. ^
  4. ^,+cartoon&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=14&gl=us
  5. ^ Meena Cartoon
  6. ^ "Complete list of Meena comic books and films". UNICEF. Archived from the original on 2014-11-03. Retrieved 2014-11-25.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]